Exactly 50 days since the DA asked Cabinet to promulgate an Electricity Emergency Response Plan (EERP), anchored on a State of Disaster declaration on Eskom in the electricity sector, we welcome news that Cabinet is giving due to consideration to “…options that would give the government the emergency powers to suspend red tape to get more power onto the grid urgently”.
While we are encouraged by the decision taken by Cabinet to take the DA’s call for an electricity emergency plan forward, the State of Disaster on Eskom and the electricity sector should only be for a limited time and ring-fenced around electricity generation, storage, transmission and distribution.
The DA now calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation on the specific details and associated timelines contained in his Cabinet’s proposed electricity emergency interventions. A timeous release of these interventions would provide an opportunity to all stakeholders across the country to make informed input and participate in their expeditious implementation, as well as allowing Parliament to hold the executive accountable for making sure that it happens.
With ministerial indifference and lack of action having contributed towards the worsening loadshedding crisis, the DA holds the view that Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan should not play any role in the implementation of any emergency response to the electricity crisis, and indeed that the President should fire them for non-performance in terms of their Ministerial Performance Agreements.
Mantashe’s obstructive and combative attitude against sound advice to open up the grid to Independent Power Producers has put South Africa on the backfoot in renewable energy generation when compared to other emerging economies and left South Africa lacking in generation capacity in the midst of this generation crisis. His counterpart, Pravin Gordhan, has been missing in action while Eskom struggled with red tape restrictions, labour issues, a rapidly failing power generation fleet and acts of sabotage at its power stations.
While the DA cautiously welcomes the revelation that the project management unit in the Presidency is leading discussions on the emergency response to the electricity crisis, it is critical that Ramaphosa plays open cards on any decisions taken by this unit.
South Africa is in the middle of an electricity crisis. Unless urgent steps are taken to remove existing red tape for IPPs, there is a high probability that South Africa could face another decade of continuous loadshedding.
The country is in desperate need of lowest-cost, source-agnostic generation capacity while existing plants are secured operationally. The private sector is pivotal to ensuring this and avenues of access must be accelerated.